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A New Twist on a Classic Holiday Dish

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I love the classic, homemade holiday dinner….turkey and stuffing for Thanksgiving, roast beef or lamb for Christmas, ham for Easter…they are traditions that I’m not frequently willing to part with.Not to say that our family hasn’t strayed from the familiar gastronomic path occasionally; I remember fondly our turkey curry and pumpkin couscous one November that was a refreshing change from the norm, we all loved it! I also remember however feeling slightly cheated out of turkey and cranberry sauce sandwiches the next day, missing reheated bowls of sausage stuffing and my pining for mashed potatoes and gravy grew so strong I woke up one random Tuesday and made them for breakfast…tasty but not the same.

That said, my quest this year is for the perfect entrée that will fit into my idea of our traditional Christmas feast while giving it a little something different.Don’t get me wrong, I could enjoy succulent roast beef every day of the week, but it’s nice to zig and zag just enough from the annual menu to allow the comfort of tradition while keeping your taste buds guessing and your family surprised.The following recipe does just that, it offers a modern, elegant twist to our expected main course but goes well with the classic sides, drinks and desserts.I would serve this with mashed or au gratin potatoes, sautéed green beans and bourbon pecan pie.  Alongside I’d serve a bold Cabernet or Petit Syrah and a pomegranate juice cooler for the kids.

Remember though, it’s not about what you serve this holiday season, it’s about who you love and the time you spend together...it’s about giving and sharing, seeing the world beyond ourselves and being thankful just for the opportunity to be here.  Happy Holidays!

Zinfandel-braised Lamb Chops with Cherries & Apricots

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Four 8-ounce lamb (or pork) chops, about 1” thick

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon ground coriander

8 garlic cloves, halved

10 thyme sprigs, plus more for garnish

1 cup big, jammy red wine, such as California Zinfandel

(substitute cherry or pomegranate juice if desired)

1/2 cup dried cherries

1/2 cup dried California apricots, quartered

2 cups low-sodium beef broth

In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil. Season the lamb chops with salt and pepper and rub them all over with the coriander. Add the lamb chops to the skillet along with the garlic cloves and 10 thyme sprigs and cook over high heat, turning once, until the lamb chops are browned and the garlic cloves are browned in spots, about 6 minutes.

Add the red wine, dried cherries and dried apricots to the skillet and bring to a boil. Cook over moderate heat until the wine is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the beef broth and bring to a boil. Cover partially and simmer over moderately low heat until the lamb is tender and the sauce is thick and glossy, about 35 minutes; turn the lamb chops once or twice during cooking. Discard the thyme sprigs. Serve the lamb chops at once, garnished with fresh thyme.

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